This has been, by far, my calmest summer since starting at CMU. In past years I’ve been working on Capitol Hill, often for more than fifty hours a week. One of the many reasons I pursued Dietrich’s honors thesis program was to find time to think and write and read and catch up on all the media I’ve neglected while working, both in Pittsburgh and D.C. In that sense, I can say without qualification that this summer was a success.
In another sense, I feel that as a writer I’m never as far as I want to be. I don’t have a complete first draft, or a concrete roadmap of where I want my project to go. That’s one advantage I believe my peers in more technical, research/experiment-oriented fields have over me. And yet, I’ve always found my scripts to be at their most exciting at the point when I know the least about them. That excitement will sustain me over the course of the fall and spring semesters, as I draft, revise, edit, and cut a new work into existence.
Harold Bloom wrote a book in 1973 called The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. Bloom was interested in how writers struggle with their influences, how we are both inspired by great writers and trapped by fears of never surpassing them. He found that great poets were able to successfully integrate their predecessors into their work, rather than trying to supplant them or sidestep them completely. My goal this summer was to identify and understand those writers who have influenced me for years; my goal in the weeks to come is to integrate them into my process.